Serum concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria undergoing sex reassignment surgery
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, March 2017
Maiko A. Schneider, Tahiana Andreazza, Anna Martha V. Fontanari, Angelo B. Costa, Dhiordan C. da Silva, Bianca W. de Aguiar, Raffael Massuda, Mariana Pedrini, Clarissa S. Gama, Karine Schwarz, Marcia Kauer-Sant'Anna, Maria Ines R. Lobato
Transsexualism (ICD-10) is a condition characterized by a strong and persistent dissociation with one's assigned gender. Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and hormone therapy provide a means of allowing transsexual individuals to feel more congruent with their gender and have played a major role in treatment over the past 70 years. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) appears to play a key role in recovery from acute surgical trauma and environmentally mediated vulnerability to psychopathology. We hypothesize that BDNF may be a biomarker of alleviation of gender incongruence suffering. To measure preoperative and postoperative serum BDNF levels in transsexual individuals as a biomarker of alleviation of stress related to gender incongruence after SRS. Thirty-two male-to-female transsexual people who underwent both surgery and hormonal treatment were selected from our initial sample. BDNF serum levels were assessed before and after SRS with sandwich enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The time elapsed between the pre-SRS and post-SRS blood collections was also measured. No significant difference was found in pre-SRS or post-SRS BDNF levels or with relation to the time elapsed after SRS when BDNF levels were measured. Alleviation of the suffering related to gender incongruence after SRS cannot be assessed by BDNF alone. Surgical solutions may not provide a quick fix for psychological distress associated with transsexualism and SRS may serve as one step toward, rather than as the conclusion of, construction of a person's gender identity.
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